“Euthanasia” comes from a Greek word meaning “a good death”.


  • Euthanasia is the deliberate use of a procedure or drug with the intention to end a person’s life.
  • Euthanasia does not occur when a patient takes an overdose of drugs that have been prescribed for pain relief.
  • Euthanasia does not occur when a patient’s life support is switched off once it becomes clear that they will not recover.
  • Euthanasia does not occur when a patient refuses treatments such as chemotherapy.


  • People who are suffering. The elderly, terminally ill, the disabled; those with serious and incurable medical conditions. Without proper safeguards, even those who are suicidal.


  • Assisted suicide occurs when a doctor prescribes a lethal dose of drugs for a person to take in their own time.
  • Euthanasia occurs when a doctor, hopefully with the patient’s consent, administers a procedure intending to induce death.


  • When countries legalise euthanasia, the incidence of death by euthanasia steadily increases. For example, euthanasia deaths make up 3.7% of death in the Netherlands.[1]
  • A study published in 2010 found that 32% of all euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were without request or consent.[2]
  • Similar research found that hundreds of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands occurred without an explicit request.[3]
  • In Belgium, 47% of euthanasia deaths are not reported.[4]
  • Research has found that people with a depressed mood are 4 times more likely to request euthanasia.[5]
  • Many people request Euthanasia because of the burden their condition places on their family and because proper medical treatment is too expensive. It isn’t fully possible to protect vulnerable people from being coerced into requesting euthanasia.[6]
  • The side effects of lethal drugs (such as vomiting, or slow and painful death) have kept a dignified death from many undergoing euthanasia.[7]


  • New Zealand’s palliative care has been ranked as the third-best in the world after the United Kingdom and Australia,[8] with over 50 million dollars invested into it annually.[9]
  • Palliative care is capable of providing a “good death”, and with more funding and research it can be further improved.


[1] McGee, A. (2017, March 3). In places where it’s legal, how many people are ending their lives using euthanasia? The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/in-places-where-its-legal-how-many-people-are-ending-their-lives-using-euthanasia-73755

[2] Chambaere, K., Bilsen, J., Cohen, J., Onwutukea-Philipsen, B. D., Mortier, F., & Deliens, L. (2010). Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 182(9), 895-901. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.091876

[3] Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D., Brinkman-Stoppelenburg, A., Penning, C., de Jong-Krul, G. J. F., van Delden, J. J. M., & van der Heide, A. (2010) Trends in end-of-life practices before and after the enactment of the euthanasia law in the Netherlands from 1990 to 2010: a repeated cross-sectional survey. The Lancet, 380, 908-915. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61034-4

[4] Smets, T., Bilsen, J., Cohen, J., Rurup, M. L., Mortier, F., & Deliens, L. (2010) Reporting of euthanasia in medical practice in Flanders, Belgium: cross sectional analysis of reported and unreported cases. The BMJ, 341. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c5174

 [5] Van der Lee, M. L., van der Bom, J. G., Swarte, N. B., Heintz, A. P. M., de Graeff, A., & van den Bout, J. (2005) Euthanasia and Depression: A Prospective Cohort Study Among Terminally Ill Cancer Patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 23(27), 6607-6612. https://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2005.14.308

[6] Public Health Division, Center for Health Statistics. (2018) Oregon Death with Dignity Act Data summary 2017. (OHA 8579 (01/18)). Retrieved from http://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/ar-index.aspx

[7] Groenewoud, J. H., van der Heide, A., Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D., Willems, D. L., van der Maas, P. J., & van der Wal, G. (2000) Clinical Problems with the Performance of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the Netherlands. The New England Journal of Medicine, 342(8), 551-556. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM200002243420805

[8] Economist Intelligence Unit. (2010). The quality of death Ranking end-of-life care across the world [White paper]. Retrieved from http://www.eiuperspectives.economist.com/healthcare/2015-quality-death-index

[9] Ministry of Health. (2017) Review of Adult Palliative Care Services in New Zealand. Retrieved from https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/review-adult-palliative-care-services-new-zealand

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